As the US is already signalling, once corona-crisis passes, economies could undo the meagre progress on climate action.
Corona-responses like that of the US’s Trump regime will surely birth another crisis, that of a derailing of the meagre progress made on climate action. Climate-denier Trump, who walked the US out of the Paris Agreement and relaxed national restrictions on methane emissions, has now rolled back Obama-era thresholds on average fuel efficiency expected of automakers, all in the name of reviving the economy once the country’s raging corona crisis—resulting largely from the inept initial handling of the outbreak by the government—passes.
As per a 2012 law, car and truck manufacturers were required to boost their fuel economy, by 2025, to 46.7 miles per gallon from an average of 40.4 miles per gallon. This would have required serious investment in technology and research. But, now, automakers are required to boost their fuel economy by only 1.5% annually for the model years 2021-26, as opposed to the almost 5% annual improvement plan Trump’s predecessor had negotiated, or even the 2.4% annual improvement that major automakers themselves had committed to.
The administration claimed that lowered fuel efficiency standards would reduce the price of new vehicles by $1,000 on average, and enable regulatory costs savings to automakers to the tune of almost $100 billion, as per Forbes. Ironically, this anti-climate decision comes at a time when the world, as an unintended consequence of corona-induced movement restrictions, has witnessed a sharp uptick in air quality. While air pollution is estimated to cause over 4 million deaths annually, some conservative estimates, CNBC reports, claim that reduction in pollution has prevented 50,000 deaths in the last two months. But, expect these gains to be lost with the world—with multilateralism and globalisation taking a hit—going back to its old fossil-fuel addiction.